In this post, I mentioned the incredible reasoning and rhetorical skills of Milton Friedman in an old video clip.
I love the internet. I found the transcript. Turns out it’s from 1975, not the ’60s. It’s wonderful. Read it.
Here’s one highlight:
HEFFNER: Yes, but it interests me that you just said that mankind is
selfish and greedy. And that has always been the battle cry of those
who have said; therefore, we must impose controls upon them.
FRIEDMAN: Therefore, we have to put power into the hands of other
selfish and greedy men. Now I want to apologize for what I said. The
great bulk of mankind. There are always conspicuous exceptions, not
everybody. And also for each person there is an exception. People are
selfish and greedy in one aspect of their activity. They are unselfish
and generous in another.
HEFFNER: No, I understand that, but -
FRIEDMAN: I don’t mean to be making a -
HEFFNER: I understand, but again that is the philosophic basis of the argument that government must step in.
FRIEDMAN: But it’s a false argument, because it assumes somehow that
government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in
charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution
whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their
fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record
of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly
was trying to develop?
If you want to watch the video, this page has some nice choices and the version I pulled up is a little bit more in sync than the version I posted before.